Paul Ryan Calls for Pause in Refugee Program
(CNN) - House Speaker Paul Ryan on Tuesday called for a "pause" in the U.S. program accepting Syrian refugees after the terror attacks in Paris last week launched by ISIS, and the House could vote as early as this week on legislation on the issue.
"This is a moment where it is better to be safe than to be sorry, so we think the prudent, the responsible thing is to take a pause in this particular aspect of this refugee program in order to verify that terrorists are not trying to infiltrate the refugee population," Ryan told reporters.
Ryan announced he was creating a task force made up of the Republican chairmen from the Homeland Security, Armed Services, Intelligence, Appropriations, Judiciary and Foreign Affairs committees to fashion legislation to address the refugee issue and come up with additional homeland security recommendations.
The speaker said he did not want to wait until a vote on a must-pass spending bill next month to address concerns about the Syrian refugee program, and several House GOP members leaving the weekly closed door meeting said the House could vote on a bill as early as Friday.
"This is not about politics. This is about national security," Ryan said, and called on all members of the House to address the situation quickly.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy is coordinating the task force, which Ryan said is meeting daily. The speaker sidestepped questions on what new legislation would do or how long the pause he wants for the program should last, but he said there needs to be a more comprehensive plan in place to address homeland security issues.
Top administration officials will hold a classified briefing for all House members on Tuesday evening on Capitol Hill.
"The intelligence community, as I've said numerous times, has been warning about this for over a year now so this didn't come as any shock to us that something like this happened because we knew this was the strategic plan of radical Islamists," House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes told reporters.
GOP Rep. Peter King, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, told reporters, "as a practical matter, there is no vetting" now of those refugees who want to resettle in the United States.
Ryan noted that he was sending President Barack Obama the annual defense bill to sign Tuesday. In a swipe at the President's recent statement saying ISIS is "contained," the speaker noted that the defense bill calls for the administration to lay out a plan to defeat the terror group. "A containment plan is not enough -- that has failed."
When pressed whether Congress needs to vote on a new war authorization, Ryan said he believed the current measure in place now gives the administration the authority it needs but that the President needs to lay out a more comprehensive strategy to combat ISIS.